Red Cross assists residents following summer storm

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 12, 2020- As many of us know, here in Northern Ohio we are prone to intense summer storms. This was the case on Wednesday night as the region was forced to withstand heavy rain and high wind speeds due to the extremely high temperatures we were experiencing.

For many in Northern Ohio, myself included, our power went out due to those harsh conditions outside. Whenever the power goes out, it can be scary and even stressful as we worry about things like the food in our refrigerator. However, now imagine how scary a power outage can be if you need that power to keep the medical equipment that you rely on running.

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That was the case for some residents during the storm. Luckily, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was there to provide support and assistance.

“A power outage is very significant to the person experiencing it. Sometimes it can constitute what Red Cross considers a true humanitarian need, but only in certain circumstances. Our responders are trained to ask certain questions to determine if we can assist financially. These answers may lead us to having a member of disaster health services evaluate a resident,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager, disaster cycle services.

Renee added, “A resident who has medical equipment powered by electricity may or may not qualify depending on the severity of their condition and the frequency of equipment use. Some individuals are considered medically fragile and even despite not needing medical equipment, may not be able to withstand extremes in temperature. Ultimately, our disaster health services volunteers, with their extensive nursing backgrounds, are the best at determining who meets the criteria in these situations.”

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Following the Wednesday night storm, the Red Cross provided storm assistance to 25 individuals, many of which were dependent on medical equipment, and provided over $4,000 in immediate financial assistance.

In addition, the Red Cross assisted 46 residents who suffered from a home fire and provided an additional $9,355 in financial assistance.

For the year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 3,139 adults, 1,677 children and have provided $933,715 in immediate financial assistance.

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As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To donate to assist the Red Cross in continuing to help residents in need throughout the region, please visit redcross.org/donate. Any amount donated truly helps.

 

 

 

Northern Ohio disaster response team active at the start of June

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 8, 2020- As the calendar changed to June, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was very active responding to local disasters, such as homes fires, both virtually and complying with social distancing guidance.

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During the week of June 1- June 7, 2020, the Northern Ohio Region Disaster Action team responded to disasters in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Stark Summit, Toledo and Wyandot counties, assisting 47 adults and 32 children.

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The Red Cross of Northern Ohio also provided over $16,000 in immediate financial assistance to those experiencing one of the worst days of their lives.

This year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,092 incidents, assisted 4,753 individuals and has provided $920,770 in immediate financial assistance.

As remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal threaten the central part of the United States with torrential downpours and flooding, the Red Cross stands ready to support those affected by the storm. In addition, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio currently has six disaster workers deployed to assist with the flooding in Michigan following the two recent dam breaches.

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

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As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

 

Annual BASH event goes virtual, opening online auction to wider audience

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

May 15, 2020- Each spring, the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes holds a military-themed live and silent auction called BASH—loosely themed after the 1970s show “M*A*S*H*.” While the event is normally held at the MAPS Air Museum on the campus of the Akron-Canton Airport, in an effort to adapt to the current global health situation, this year’s BASH auction will take place virtually. The annual event raises tens of thousands of dollars to advance the mission of the Red Cross in Northern Ohio.

This year, BASH will be held online using a mobile auctioning platform called OneCause. In light of the current pandemic, the event has been rechristened, “BASH: Mission ImPossible. Not only will BASH continue amidst the recent challenges, but it will be available to more attendees than ever before with free and unlimited admission.

All of Northern Ohio’s past donors and volunteers will receive an email in the coming weeks. But everyone is invited to participate in this year’s event and can register by following the instructions at: redcross.org/bash20.

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More than 50 amazing items will be featured this year along with the chance to win a ride in the Goodyear blimp. You will have the ability to place and track your bids from wherever you may be; as long as you have an internet connection and a device with a browser, you can participate!

“We appreciate all the support we get from our partners and donors, who make BASH such a smash every year,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “The money raised through the auction every year helps us provide essential services to people who experience disasters like home fires.”

The auction will open on May 30 at 4 p.m. with a Facebook live kickoff at Facebook.com/NOHRedCross , hosted by Emmy award-winning journalist and current children’s book author Denise Dufala, and will continue until June 3 at 4 p.m. On opening day, those who are registered will receive a text message with a link that will allow you to start bidding. The home screen will allow you to browse different categories of items and you can search for specific items. The platform makes it easy to select the highest price you’d like to bid. Then you will receive alerts letting you know where you are in the bidding process. You’ll even receive a text message when you are no longer the highest bidder. At the end of the auction, you can view what you have won and pay directly through the site. Another way to participate, without bidding, is the ability to simply donate to the organization through the platform.

Some may have experience with similar online platforms while others may not. The important thing to remember is that we are all learning and experimenting together during this unprecedented time, but these adaptations are done with one goal in mind: “to raise money to help prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies during this pandemic.”

Mark your calendars for May 30 and invite all of your friends and family to participate in our BASH: Mission ImPossible event! We are looking forward to embracing this challenge while social distancing to continue helping those around us amidst the pandemic.

If you have any questions regarding the event, do not hesitate to contact Sarah Leonhard at sarah.leonhard@redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor bio: Jillian O’Donnell

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

May 13, 2020- Jillian O’Donnell lives in Columbus where she works as a registered nurse. She enjoys spending time with her family and taking her dog to fun places around the city. In March, Jillian experienced the sudden onset loss of her taste and smell. After talking with her sister, she discovered this was a new symptom being reported by COVID-19 patients. Because she is an essential worker, she decided to get tested before returning to work. Her test came back positive on March 25.

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Jillian O’Donnell

In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. According to Jillian, when she heard about the process of giving convalescent plasma, it was a no-brainer to find out how and when she could donate. Jillian traveled two hours from Columbus to make her donation at an American Red Cross donation center in Akron, Ohio.

“As a nurse that works on a COVID-19 isolation unit, I have seen firsthand how this virus has negatively affected individuals,” said Jillian. “I am beyond thankful that I had very mild symptoms that I managed at home, on my own. I know that is not the case for many others.”

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People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.

“We are blessed to be survivors of this terrible virus and not everyone has that opportunity,” said Jillian. “Everyone deserves a fighting chance against this virus and donating plasma can give patients the opportunity to do that!”

Last week, two more convalescent plasma donor patients gave plasma to help others at our Akron blood donor center: Jane Krivos and Josh Nathaniel.

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Jane Krivos

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Josh Nathaniel

To participate, individuals must meet all regular blood donation requirements as well as others. To learn more and complete a donor request form, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

Photo credit: Eric Alves/American Red Cross

Sandusky resident shows age is just a number when it comes to donating blood

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

April 29, 2020- Ken Fultz is proof positive you’re never too old to save a life, or two, or three.

The spry Sanduskian, who celebrated his 90th birthday in March, did his part for others during this COVID-19 emergency by giving blood at a recent American Red Cross blood drive.

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Ken Fultz

“You know, I would do it again tomorrow if they (would) let me,” Ken said. “Everyone there knew what they were doing, and I got thanked over and over again.”

And well he should be thanked. Under the “stay home and save a life” rules to slow the spread of the deadly virus, scores of blood drives have been cancelled across northern Ohio. But the need for blood never stops, for accident victims; moms and newborns in difficult deliveries; surgery and cancer patients; and men, women and children who rely on transfusions for a healthy life.

“Dad has always been my hero,” Ken’s daughter, Sally Carter, said. “He has always put his family first and his community a close second.

“When the COVID-19 virus started to spread, it was hard to keep him inside and safe. When he suggested maybe he could give blood, we made the necessary phone calls to make it happen.”

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Ken with his daughter Sally Carter

And while he was at it, Ken encouraged four other family members to donate blood along with him.

Donating blood was nothing new for Ken: His next donation – which could be as soon as late June – will put him into the 10 Gallon Club. That will mean he’s given 80 units of blood! And if each of those units was separated into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, that amounts to as many as 240 lives saved!

Ken’s generosity isn’t limited to life saving. For more than 25 years, until last fall – at the age of 89 – he delivered Meals on Wheels to an eager group of shut-ins. And he delivered flowers from Zion Lutheran Church to Firelands Regional Medical Center faithfully every week until the hospital had to stop all visits as an infection precaution.

Ken Fultz

“It’s people like Ken who step forward to help others that are the heart and soul of the Red Cross,” said Christy Peters, northern Ohio regional biomedical communications manager. “They are genuine humanitarians, giving the gift of life.”

To find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive, call 1-800-REDCROSS or access RedCrossBlood.org.  Or you can text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Goggle Play to get the free Blood Donor App.

 

Red Cross Northern Ohio Region thanks Progressive and Marathon Petroleum for generous, lifesaving support

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

April 15, 2020- The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting one of humanity’s greatest challenges, one which the American Red Cross is working diligently to meet. Two Northern Ohio-based companies and their foundations, The Progressive Corporation/The Progressive Insurance Foundation and Marathon Petroleum Corporation/Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc., are providing generous support to the Red Cross at this critical time.

Both Progressive and Marathon are including the Red Cross in wide-ranging initiatives to help address vital needs. In addition, Marathon is joining the Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). It is the second Northern Ohio-based organization to do so, alongside the J.M. Smucker Company.

Progressive contributes as part of its Apron Relief Program

Progressive has provided $2.5 million to the Red Cross as part of a wide-reaching $1 billion package—dubbed the “Apron Relief Program”—to assist its customers, employees, agents and communities. The gift to the Red Cross is part of The Progressive Insurance Foundation’s $8 million donation to charities focused on hunger, health and homelessness.

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In addition to this extraordinary donation, Progressive has partnered with the Red Cross for many years. Progressive’s assistance has included matching its employees’ donations, promoting the Red Cross during times of disaster and recovery, and the regular sponsorship and hosting of blood drives. In fact, Progressive has collected 6,283 pints of blood since it began hosting drives.

Regarding the gift, Michelle Polinko, chief development officer of the Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Region, said, “The Progressive Foundation and the employees of Progressive have been amazing supporters of the Red Cross mission. They have generously donated funds to help us prepare for and respond to disasters, and have provided much-needed blood to help save lives every day. A sincere thanks to Progressive for caring about those in need!”

Information on the full “Apron Relief Program” is available in Progressive’s press release, linked here.

Marathon joins the Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program and donates N95 masks to healthcare facilities

As part of its COVID-19 pandemic response, The Marathon Petroleum Corporation has donated $1 million to the Red Cross through the Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc. Marathon is also donating 575,000 N95 respirator masks to healthcare facilities.

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With this exceptional gift, Marathon joins Smucker’s as the second Northern Ohio-based company to join the Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). Through the ADGP and Disaster Responder Program, companies, foundations and organizations pledge financial and in-kind support in advance of major disasters. This support allows the Red Cross to prepare for and quickly respond to disasters, wherever and whenever they occur.

As reported in Marathon’s press release, Trevor Riggen, senior vice president of Disaster Services at the American Red Cross, said, “Thanks to partners like the Marathon Petroleum Foundation, the Red Cross can continue to provide food, shelter and care to people impacted by disasters nationwide. We are extremely grateful for their support during this public health crisis.”

More information on Marathon’s assistance is available in its press release, linked here. More information on the ADGP is available here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the need for medical supplies, blood and support. Meanwhile, other disasters continue to occur. In Northern Ohio, as everywhere, the Red Cross is deeply committed to helping all of us through these critical times. Thanks to organizations like Progressive and Marathon, we are able to do so.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

First time donor gives blood to aid with shortage

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 25, 2020- The COVID-19 outbreak is all anyone can talk about in Northeast Ohio. Beyond the immediate health emergency, the virus is threatening to create additional future public health emergencies due to the current blood shortage.

As of March 23, about 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 200,000 fewer blood donations. This is why the Red Cross is asking all healthy and eligible individuals to donate lifesaving blood.

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Jenna Ostrowski with Regional CEO Mike Parks

On March 20, the Cleveland Clinic lent a helping hand to put an end to the blood shortage by opening their doors to host a much needed blood drive.

One of the donors present at the blood drive was Jenna Ostrowski, a medical technologist in the Automated Hematology Department. This moment was a milestone for Jenna, as she was a first time blood donor, who was motivated to take the leap to officially become a blood donor due to the need following the outbreak.

“I figured now is the time, since so many people need blood. It’s a good opportunity for caregivers since the drive is right here at the Clinic,” stated Jenna.

Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Regional CEO Mike Parks was present at the blood drive, thanking Cleveland Clinic President Tomislav Mihaljevic for opening the Cleveland Clinic’s doors to host the blood drive and to thank donors like Jenna for giving the gift of life.

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Tomislav Mihaljevic speaking with Mike Parks

Everyone at the Red Cross understands why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but we want to assure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors, volunteers and staff.

Volunteers and staff are checking the temperature of  everyone before they enter a drive to make sure they are healthy. Hand sanitizer is available for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process. We are also spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

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Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, including wearing gloves and changing them often, wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

If you are a first-time donor, like Jenna, click here to learn some helpful best practices.

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If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To view more photos from the Cleveland Clinic blood drive, visit the Northeast Ohio Region Flickr page.

Healthy blood donors needed amid coronavirus concerns

March 11, 2020- With confirmed coronavirus disease cases in Northeast Ohio and the state of Ohio declaring a state of emergency, and with schools across the region closed and events postponed due to precautions, the American Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S.

Cold and flu season has already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood for patients in need could decrease further.

“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “As fears of coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”

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Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org. At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.

Blood drive hosts play important role
Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply and are asked to keep hosting blood drives for patients who rely on lifesaving blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.

The Red Cross, with the help of its blood drive hosts and blood donors, can help ensure the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Hrouda. “Patients across the country need our help.”

To learn more about hosting a blood drive for patients in need, please visit RedCrossBlood.org.

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Red Cross committed to blood supply safety

The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of our valued staff, blood donors and blood recipients, and we are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following:

  • Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea;
  • Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.

Blood donation process

A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes. Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

 

March is Red Cross Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

February 28, 2020- You’ve probably seen the American Red Cross blood drive signs across town, and you’ve probably passed a Red Cross vehicle or two recently. But did you know that March is Red Cross Month?

The first nationally proclaimed Red Cross Month was the idea of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. He said, “I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.” It’s been remembered each year since.

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Every day the Red Cross answers the calls from those in need in many ways. Our blood collection unit supplies about 40% of the blood requirements of the United States. Each unit of blood can save as many as three lives.

Our Service to the Armed Forces unit helps military members, veterans and their families in many ways, including making contact military members when there is a family emergency.

Our disaster services team responds to local, national and international emergencies. Regionally, we respond to an average of three home fires every 24 hours.

What most people don’t realize is that the Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency. It depends on volunteers and the generosity of people like you to perform our mission. Another interesting fact is that the Red Cross is part of the world’s largest volunteer network, found in 187 counties.

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WWFDRS?  (What would FDR say?)

His idea was for everyone to adopt the aim and activities of the Red Cross. For some, that might mean a donation if they don’t have time to serve. You can always make a donation here.

But if you really want to make a difference, consider volunteering. It will make a difference in someone else’s life as well as your own. There’s no better feeling than being able to assist someone when they are at their lowest hour.

Volunteer opportunities exist now for many talents. But we are especially in need of people to:

1) Join the Disaster Action Team, which goes out in pairs after a local fire or flood to provide financial and emotional support.

2) Become a Home Fire Campaign volunteer to spend an afternoon assisting with the installation of free smoke alarms in local neighborhoods.

3) Serve as drivers to Transport Blood products from blood drives to our main office and then to hospitals. Clean driving record needed. Vehicles provided.

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There’s no experience needed for any of these positions, and they can be done by the young as well as the young-at-heart. Hours are flexible and all training is provided. Make FDR proud, and consider joining our mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

An extra day to make a difference

Leap year provides opportunity to help others

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

February 26, 2020- The American Red Cross responds to needs in our community 365 days a year. But this year it’s 366 days. Yes, there’s an extra day to do much-needed work because it’s leap year.

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What is leap year and why is it happening? In a nutshell, the standard calendar year is 365 days, but the Earth takes 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds to go completely around the sun. This is called a solar year. In order to keep the calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is added every four years. Feb. 29 is one of those days, making 2020 a “leap year.”

So what are you going to do with your extra day?

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How about making it a day to do good for an organization that does so much good every day of the year? The Red Cross may not be top of mind as you go through your day-to-day life. Unless there is a natural disaster that makes the news headlines, it’s hard to remember that the work of the Red Cross and its volunteers goes quietly along 365 day a year, ready and waiting to respond to people who face emergencies.

  • 365 days a year, the Red Cross secures food and lodging for the family struck by a home fire.
  • 365 days a year, the Red Cross is there for a deployed soldier who needs to get home for a family emergency.
  • 365 days a year, the Red Cross is providing life-saving blood to someone who needs it.
  • 365 days a year, everyday people become heroes because they learned skills that helped save a life due to CPR/AED training from their local Red Cross.
  • 365 days a year, the Red Cross is there, ready to help.

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Maybe your life was made better and safer because you learned to swim. Or you became a lifeguard or took a babysitting class through the Red Cross. These things may slip our mind as we go through our daily lives. But on this 366th day, it’s a great time to remember the Red Cross through your donation.

There are so many ways to donate. You can donate online, by mail, phone, text or through your Alexa device. And you can make this leap year last 366 days by setting up monthly donations. For the price of a cup of your daily coffee, you can make a huge difference in the lives of someone who needs the help of the Red Cross every day. You can also specify whether your donation stays local. You can even specify whether you want your money to go where it is “most needed” or perhaps to a specific service or need close to your heart.

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This leap year, make your extra day count. Give to the Red Cross.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer